RSS: Handing over Hindus to servitude in Kashmir
by Shailendra Aima on 16 Jul 2010 19 Comments
Can the RSS be accused of abandoning Hindus and forcing their submission to an intensely communal political order in Kashmir? Many were shocked and surprised at the publication of Ajaat Jamwal’s poignant cry, “Jammu RSS helping in Hindu capitulation in J&K” (27 Jan. 2010,


As per reports appearing in the press at the time, the RSS Pracharak (lead functionary) in charge of Jammu and Kashmir was counselling the internally displaced Kashmiri Hindus to offer balidaan (sacrifice) and return to Kashmir. At that time, diehard RSS activists argued that the return of Kashmiri Hindus to the Valley was a prime objective of RSS activities in the state, and that there was nothing unusual about the exhortations of the RSS Pracharak.


This “balidaan” counsel to Kashmiri Hindus by the RSS carries a profound message, as it comes at a time when the state of affairs are far worse than what these were in 1989-90. If, as per RSS assessment, the situation in the Valley has improved, then the question of balidaan (sacrifice) would not arise because then the Kashmiri Hindus would be returning to a far better security and political environment than that which prevailed when they were forced to quit the Valley in the biting winter of 1989-90.


Anybody with even a cursory understanding of the ground reality in Kashmir would know that the situation in Kashmir today is grimmer and worse than in 1989-90. Agitational terrorism, which cripples the life in the Valley every now and again, only demonstrates the reach that the terrorist regimes wield in mobilizing the public to further their goals. Extreme radical communalism rules the roost. The Jihadi outfits are far numerous and far more self-reliant. There is a tactical decline in terrorist violence; but more as an expression of the exigencies of Jihad in Af-Pak.


The state government publicly claims itself to be nothing more than a day to day arrangement for running the affairs of the administration, and not as the protector of the Nation and its sovereignty. Support to the separatist cause from within the administration has become more brazen. Those who unleashed religious cleansing are roaming around freely and have in fact become public icons. Hindu presence in the Valley has further declined by more than half.


In 1996, when the elected government took over the reins of the state, the number of Hindus as per government estimates was over 10,000 persons. In 2010, again as per the government’s own admission in the Legislative Assembly, the number of Hindus living in Kashmir Valley is just over 3000.


Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha


The Sangh Parivar’s decision to serve as facilitators in pushing the internally displaced Hindus back to the Valley comes at a wrong time. It seems to ignore not only the ground realities, but also the vision and perspective of nation-building in Kashmir. Asking the Hindus to return without a long term perspective of survival and growth raises several doubts. Do its timing, manner and intent reflect the failure of a strategic and tactical perspective, as also a changing outlook?


There was a time when a perfect harmony existed between the deeds and the sayings of the Parivar. The Resolutions of the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, the highest decision making forum in the RSS, used to be definitive indicators of the outlook as well as the operational processes of the Sangh on the ground. Now it seems that the resolutions of the Pratinidhi Sabha are employed more to lull criticism and control the resentment against many of its actions on the ground.


When Madhu Kishwar was invited to address the inaugural conference of the newly constituted Syama Prasad Mookerjee Institute, it was neither a fluke nor a mistake. It reflected the urge of the RSS high command to identify with and promote, indirectly, such propositions on Jammu and Kashmir which are otherwise antithetical to its ideograph.


Not long after the din of criticism on inviting Madhu Kishwar had settled, the Jammu Kashmir Vichar Manch, a Sangh Parivar outfit, organized its annual conference on the eve of Maha Shivratri in New Delhi. The lead speaker on the occasion was Air Vice Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak. His views on the Kashmir issue are hardly different than those of Madhu Kishwar.


Central University Jammu


Again, was it a coincidence that during the Prime Ministership of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prof. Amitabh Mattoo was appointed Vice Chancellor of Jammu University? Certainly the appointment seemed less on the basis of his academic experience and record, and more for his personal and political views on Jammu and Kashmir. The RSS never seemed ready to debate the implications of this appointment and to put a halt on his flirtations with Self-Rule postulates.


In fact, RSS cadres and BJP office bearers among the Jammu University faculty were seen hobnobbing as conflict managers and flying in and out of India as peace-nicks, promoting ideas of Autonomy and Self-Rule. Many argue BJP was not listening to the views of the RSS, whether on Ram Temple or anything else. But the fact remains that the then RSS points-man on Kashmir, Shri Indresh Kumar, floated several NGOs in the Valley with the blessings of the then Home Minister; and substantial funds were diverted to Kashmir for the purpose, at that time. In fact, top functionaries of the RSS and BJP would mandate Hindus from Jammu and Kashmir to first consult Indresh Kumar on important issues related to their survival and existence, such was the clout RSS exercised with the BJP. There has been almost a harmony between the BJP top brass and RSS functionaries on matters relating to Jammu and Kashmir.


Now again, RSS indifference to the proposed appointment of Prof. Amitabh Mattoo as Vice Chancellor of the newly constituted Central University Jammu has been no less glaring. When a significant cross-section of Jammu people, including the premiere organizations of Kashmiri Hindus, opposed Prof. Mattoo’s proposed appointment and the whole of Jammu province was on the boil, the indifference and inconvenience of the RSS hierarchy in Jammu was not hidden. The Sangh Parivar’s accommodation of the likes of Mattoo or Kishwar reflects the growing compatibility and changing outlook of RSS with proposals that advocate compromise with separatists in the State, and Pakistan.


Ram Jethmalani and Afzal Guru


The nomination of Shri Ram Jethmalani to the Rajya Sabha is again to be viewed in this perspective. Shri Jethmalani was head of the Kashmir Committee which had virtually started to don the mantle of public relations agency in India for building support for the Musharraf formula for Kashmir. That his candidature was mooted by Nitin Gadkari – an RSS diehard – shows how national security perspectives involving Jammu and Kashmir have undergone a mutation in the thinking of the Sangh Parivar. 


Why did RSS, which has been strongly advocating quick implementation of the death penalty against Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, not find it strange as Jethmalani had earlier argued in the Rajya Sabha that his sentence should be commuted to life imprisonment? Why does the BJP that accuses the UPA government of not carrying out the death sentence against Afzal for vote-bank politics, honour Jethmalani with a Rajya Sabha berth?


Narendra Modi and Sanjay Dutt


Shri Narendra Modi’s endeavour to make Sanjay Dutt a brand ambassador of Gujarat is in fact a reflection of the ideological capitulation by RSS. The Parivar seems to be suing for peace with the so-called ‘liberal’ sections of the Indian political class. Many RSS sympathisers say that such acts, including the readmission of Jaswant Singh to the BJP, are actually indicators of resistance offered to RSS perspectives by the establishment at the helm of the BJP.


Senior Hindustan Times columnist, Shri Pankaj Vohra, commenting on the return of Jaswant Singh, noted, “The RSS and its nominee Gadkari have come out very poorly in the whole affair. It is evident now that RSS Sarsanghachalak has no control left over the Parivar. But what is equally surprising is why various constituents like VHP are taking things lying down. Has their belief in Hindutva been shaken beyond repair and have they reconciled giving respectability to Jinnah, the man whom they accuse of dividing the country”. It is as yet difficult to say whether RSS has lost control of the BJP. But there are manifest symptoms in the behaviour of the Parivar which indicate irreparable damage to its ideology. The doings of the Parivar in Jammu and Kashmir reflect this more than anything else.


Sajjad Lone


Would anyone believe that RSS activists campaigned for Sajjad Lone, a separatist leader, during the assembly elections? The very same person who spews venom on India every now and again.


Can anyone believe that OTC-trained RSS activists are working in cohorts with trade union leaders who have links with the radical Left to provide Kashmiri Hindu audiences to JKLF leader Yasin Malik? The first major killing of a Kashmiri Hindu, which triggered the exodus of Hindus, was done by none other than Yasin Malik. And the person killed was the BJP chief of Kashmir province and RSS stalwart Tika Lal Taploo.


Growing Intifada


Now, as the situation is deteriorating in Kashmir Valley, which has been on full display on electronic channels, the RSS in Jammu is trying to facilitate the return of Kashmiri Hindus on lines envisaged by the Omar Abdullah regime.


Recently, RSS ideologue and now BJP official spokesman and Rajya Sabha MP, Shri Tarun Vijay, made some forays into Kashmir Valley. His utterances there only underlined the urge to underplay the deteriorating situation on the ground. At a time, when sections of the ruling UPA government seem to be coming to grips with the unleashing of Agitational Terrorism in the Valley to wreck Indian sovereignty, the RSS hierarchy in Jammu and Kashmir has chosen to be on the side of that section of the UPA which wants to push forward the process of reconciliation with Pakistan at any cost. At the maiden conference of the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Foundation in Srinagar, issues related to Afghanistan and Pakistan were discussed, but the situation on the ground and the building Intifada was conveniently ignored.


In its eagerness to herald a new strategic paradigm, the Sangh seems to have started to contemptuously abandon the Hindus of Jammu and Kashmir, particularly the Kashmiri Hindus. RSS leader Ram Madhav was interrupted by an angry Kashmiri Hindu in USA when he insinuated that the Kashmir problem had arisen mainly because of the running away of Kashmiri Hindus. The uproar caused by these remarks settled only after Dr. Subramaniam Swamy, another Hindu leader, intervened and corrected the perspective.


Describing Kashmiri Hindus as cowards has become common in the internal discourse of the Parivar. This hate trend for Kashmiri Hindus seems to have assumed brazen proportions after Shri Vajpayee started the process of reconciliation with Pakistan. RSS leaders handling affairs of Jammu and Kashmir were always in the loop while the peace process was being structured.


The high profile involvement of local RSS to demand permission to go to the Shardha Temple in POK was in fact a ploy to seek Hindu cooperation in opening the LoC for trade with Pakistan and eventually rendering the borders porous – a significant component of the Musharraf formulations. Ironically RSS has downplayed the destruction of hundreds of Hindu temples in Kashmir as well as the destruction of the Hindu habitat there.


RSS parrots vague clichés like return of Hindus with dignity, honour and security. In reality it has joined ranks with the deniers of the Genocide of Kashmiri Hindus. It is unwilling to face the gravity of the situation on the ground for Hindus in the Valley. It meticulously avoids the real issues.


Recently when a Panun Kashmir leader referred to the religious cleansing of Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir as a ‘great game of genocide in Asia’, in a programme organized by the RSS, the Chief Guest Arun Jaitley was visibly discomfited. Anybody with some knowledge of RSS affairs in Jammu and Kashmir will testify that before the Exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from the Valley, they were being blamed by the RSS top-brass for compromising with Muslim politics! Now the cycle of history has turned full circle and the RSS brass in the State pleads and prods the Kashmiri Hindus to compromise with the same politics in the Valley at a time when the milieu there is militarised and more intolerant.


What is the RSS perspective on the problems faced by Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir, and more specifically by the Hindus of Kashmir? Perhaps while keeping the pretensions, RSS never articulates its specific views on such issues. After the article, “Jammu RSS helping in Hindu capitulation in J&K” triggered a debate, a Kashmiri Hindu NRI living in the USA, a vocal supporter of the RSS and BJP, came out with a justification and defence, “RSS is thinking in strategic terms … They do not wish to permanently loose Kashmir to Wahabism and radical Islam. Intelligent and courageous Kashmiri Pandits have a very important role to play in this.”


Yet he was candid enough to admit, “Let me caution, KP’s will probably have to live as second class citizens at the mercy and whim of the Muslim majority as they now control major centers of power. This may be unacceptable to our brethren, particularly the younger generation. We need to understand however that prior to Sikh rule, KPs indeed lived as second class citizens under Afghan, Mughal, Chak and Shah Miri rule.”


Some say the KP NRI wrote this defence at the prodding of the RSS and had sought endorsement from other NRI KPs in USA. In the absence of concrete evidence I believe these were his personal views. Baffled by the RSS attitude on a whole gamut of issues about Jammu and Kashmir, I ask myself if the RSS has something better to offer in terms of a strategy for Hindus of Kashmir.


Will RSS ever come forward to dispel the impression that it is willing to offer Kashmiri Hindus to the permanent servitude of Muslims in Kashmir just for the necessity of retaining a show of Hindu presence in Kashmir? The acts of omission and commission indulged in by the RSS on Jammu and Kashmir have piled up to the extent where the Nehruvian blunders have started to pale into insignificance.


The author is Editor, Kashmir Sentinel, and a prominent educationist of Jammu

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